Let's say you've looked forward to celebrating a special occasion. You want this fail-safe, drop-dead gorgeous restaurant to celebrate it in. Why not Manila's flagship hotel? It has a lot of history around it. It is, after all, a 5-star hotel situated along Manila Bay built in 1909. Wouldn't you want to be as relevant as this 570-room, 106 year old establishment? But then you don't want a family dinner, a romantic rendezvous or any celebratory event in a rundown place that has seen better days, right? You will love iconic Manila Hotel and its Cafe Ilang Ilang.
General Douglas MacArthur, John F. Kennedy Jr., the Beatles, Ernest Hemingway, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., John Wayne, and Michael Jackson have navigated its hallways and they've enjoyed the luxury fit for kings..
In Lonely Planet's eloquent parlance, the hotel is a "wow". If you want an atmosphere of luxury and regal ambiance, this is the place to visit or have your special get-together meal in.
Manila Hotel was designed by New York architect William Parsons who envisioned a grand establishment. It was part of city planner Daniel Hudson Burnham's grand design of a functional metropolis. It was lavish as lavish should be. Parsons also designed Baguio City's oft-visited "The Mansion House", Philippine General Hospital (PGH) and Cebu's Customs Office.
When the Japanese came, they occupied it. But when they left, they set it ablaze until what was left was its architectural "shell". Brilliant minds such as the nasty Japanese burned what they could back then. Imagine how proud they were of their trail of utter destruction, "killing" everything from physical form to spirit and soul. But national patrimony is a testament of resilience. Manila Hotel was eventually reconstructed to its original design. Since then it has been refurbished several times.
Cafe Ilang Ilang is located on the ground floor at the left wing from the opulent lobby. It has recently been renovated and shows no hint of its age. It has tastefully kept up with the times. But for the exterior which looks dour and boring with its green and white color scheme. But it has always looked like that. I think it's in this spirit why they decided to keep it looking as such. But I hope they change their mind. When something has looked the same in the last 106 years, it will look "tired".
I love every corner of Cafe Ilang Ilang though. A buffet rate costs half an arm and half a leg, so to speak, at PhP3,000++ ($68) per person excluding drinks although the waiter informed me that during the holiday season, non-alcoholic drinks were included in the price - and were even unlimited so one could overhydrate. Daily buffet follows a specific theme so check out their website if you require a specific dish, though the buffet stations have most of everything, from Japanese to Pinoy dishes, from Italian to Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine to French and continental gastronomy.
I don't enjoy buffet dinners as much as I think I should owing to their exorbitant prices but I take my family when I can because they love it, and you do things and try to enjoy these gatherings anyway. My plate's always little bits of limited things but to be quite honest, this was one of my favorite buffets of all time. In fact, I have returned to its "bread station" so many times I lost count. And I am not even a bread person.
Their ice creams are to die for, and their dessert similarly so. You somehow feel that your presence there is one unhealthy experience. But hey, everything in moderation is always the prudent thing. At billing time, the waiter will remind you if you have elders for senior citizen discounts. The place is vast. I reckon a reservation for a table is needless. But please do reserve to be on the safe side. The hotel has 3 restaurants and 3 bars. Be specific where you want to dine. But "Cafe Ilang Ilang" is one sure bet. Bon appetit!
This is the Eye in the Sky!
|The opulent lobby|
|Wide space with Doric columns, Philippine marble; opulent chandeliers made of brass, crystal and seashells and mahogany furniture characterize the imeldific lobby.|
For more information, please visit their website at http://www.manila-hotel.com.ph/ or call them at 632 527 0011.